In my head, I was like, ‘Wow’ she’s Deepika! How am I going to romance her! She has worked with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor. Look at my competition! It is a romantic film and I didn’t want people to say, ‘Nahi kar paya”
— Siddhant on romancing Deepika
On the surface, Siddhant Chaturvedi is a confident newcomer, well-aware of his potential. A writer at heart and a firm believer in eternal love, he finds the cynicism of contemporary times hard to connect with. It was thus tough for the actor to keep his thoughts aside and dive into the complex layers of love and infidelity, as observed by director Shakun Batra in Gehraiyaan. In Gully Boy, Bunty Aur Babli 2 and now Gehraiyaan, which drops on February 11 on Amazon Prime Video, the actor holds his own on-screen, no matter who he shares screen space with. In a chat with BT, Siddhant talks about romancing Deepika Padukone, his career choices and more.
In a recent interview, Shakun Batra said that love has been oversimplified in Hindi films. You’ve been extremely filmy right from your college days. Do you agree with him?
Be it love, choices or consequences, you are conditioned to think a certain way based on the films you watch. I am a diehard romantic who adores Shah Rukh Khan. I am a huge rom-com fan. Our idea of love is shaped by the films we like. For me, it was waiting for that one person your whole life philosophy. Love for me is forever. I always wanted to do a quintessential rom-com, but times have changed. Such love stories aren’t made that often these days. I was on the lookout for an out-and-out love story, and no scripts were convincing enough. I later realised that the stories I expected were nostalgic, but not reflective of the current times. When Shakun offered me this film that gets under the surface of love, I thought to myself, this is a film that begins after Raj and
Simran ride off into the sunset. What happens after they get onto that train in the end? Do they feel stuck after the initial heady phase of romance? Do you not feel loved anymore? Gehraiyaan touches upon that layer. It starts off where most romcoms end. It shook me. I had to unlearn everything personally and also as an actor. I had to stop judging because you realise, we all are messed up in our own ways. He made me look within. Having said that, I will never stop believing in the made-for-each-other notion of love.
How unnerving was it to portray that intimacy with Deepika and make it appear so casual and real on the screen?
In my head, I was like, ‘Wow’ she’s Deepika! How am I going to romance her! She has worked with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor. Look at my competition.’ It is a romantic film and I didn’t want people to say, ‘Nahi kar paya.’ When I was heading to Goa, you had asked me about the intimacy workshop. I was panicking at the time because I didn’t know, and you were the first person to tell me about it. I didn’t have an idea at all. Of course, Shakun narrated the story to me and since I was eager to work with him, I said I am on. We knew there was intimacy, but we didn’t know to what extent. The screenplay didn’t particularly mention that because it wasn’t erotic poetry or something. The workshops and readings happened later. Then I got to know that to make ourselves comfortable, we had an intimacy director, Dar Gai, on set.
Pehli baar jab maine suna toh thoda dar gaya ke itna kya hai picture mein jo intimacy director ki zaroorat pad gayi (smiles)! But I realised that’s how Shakun likes to work. His portrayal of intimacy isn’t just physical, but emotional and nuanced. The camera doesn’t tell you that look, two people are kissing. It flows organically.
A lot has been said about these rehearsals. How did they help exactly?
It was a team-building exercise, something I even did in Mithibai College when we did theatre. In Goa, all of us did yoga at 7 in the morning, followed by breakfast at 10 am. At noon, we had a body coach who trained us to loosen up, and then we had Dar, who made us understand comfort and consent. These experts should be on every set. There are so many things that I didn’t know about myself. I am extremely shy, but this one month in Goa with all of us staying together and eating together, broke my inhibitions.
What did your parents think of the film and were you comfortable watching it with them?
I didn’t sit with them. I was sitting in one corner and they were in the other. After watching the film, I returned home in my car. I didn’t even travel back with them. I rushed to my room and went to bed. Dad knocked and came in. He wanted to talk about the film because he loved it, but I just wanted this day to pass (laughs!), so we did speak about it later on the phone. That’s when he said, ‘
Yeh film samaaj ka darpan hai. Ismay kuch sahi galat nahi hai.’ (It holds a mirror to the society).
Koi message nahi de rahe hai hum. The world has changed and these kinds of stories exist. We are not promising you a Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
You have already worked with directors like Zoya Akhtar and prominent banners like Dharma, in a relatively short span of time. As an outsider, are you getting used to the life of a movie star?
I am working with those people who I have looked up to my whole life. I am still in my learning phase, but I want to be approachable and accessible even in the future. Banna toh mujhe hero hi tha pehle se, but I want to avoid the negative parts that come with it. I love it when people love my work and they should be able to tell me that. Actor ban gaye toh, sir ke paas mat jao, unka mood nahi hai… that kind of stuff I don’t like.